25 December 2010

Day 273: Smallworld

Smallworld by Dominic Green.  ISBN: 9780956492531 (eBook).

In Smallworld there is an advanced technology with which you can record your personality or the personality of a loved one.  You can also program the personality of someone who is dead or that you've never met by teaching the handheld device how the supposed person would respond to certain situations.  I've always found this technology a bit hard to swallow.

I'm assuming this technology would rely on an AI unit of some sort, which means it would learn and probably change over time.  Ideally if you had five different Personalities they would be almost completely different people after fifteen years, although they would still have the same base memories and might be able to see why and where the others had changed, etc.  But the fact remains that the longer you use the personalities the less they stay like your loved one and the more they would come to resemble yourself, or at least your perception of your loved one.  The AI would undoubtedly be influenced by whoever uses it the most as it would be able to take fewer cues based on the uploaded personality on things like current events and new scientific discoveries, etc.  Therefore even a relatively "pure" personality download would become corrupted as it imprinted new information.  True, it might not react exactly the same as the person using it, but it would be more prone to go along with the thoughts and ideas it had been exposed to, at least regarding new information.

On the other hand, it would be super awesome to be able to talk to the personalities of celebrities I will never have the opportunity to meet.  I would love to carry Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett or Octavia E. Butler around in my head.  I would die with joy to be able to sit down and talk with my grandfather or grandmother again, to have some little piece of semi-life and wisdom left of them.  Although I'm actually more interested in meeting the people I never have a hope of meeting, so as much as I would like to have my grandparents around to tell me all the family history I'll never know, there would be that niggling thought in the back of my head telling me "it's not them," which would only make me miss them more.

I have no real desire to leave my own personality behind.  It's just not something I'm interested in doing.  I have dozens of journals and that should provide you with enough information to guess and ponder over who I am and was.  I have these blog posts which give you a very good idea of what I think about and how.  By now you probably have a good grasp on my sense of humor and sensibilities.  And I don't like the idea of "my" personality out there roaming around without me.  It would get into trouble and say things it shouldn't.  If anyone is going to do that, it ought to be me so I can at least own up to them and try to fix whatever problems arise from my big dumb mouth.

You know what hell would be?  Sitting in a room trying to talk to two or three of my personalities.  Oh god, someone could write a torture scene about that.  I would actually very much worry about someone who would find that scenario appealing.  I would hate it, because then I would find out exactly how argumentative and uninteresting I can actually be.

Merry Christmas, may you never be stuck in a room talking to yourself over the holiday.  Love, LibsLIB.

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: I was contacted by the publisher and asked to review this book in exchange for a digital copy.  However, that digital copy is currently available (as of this posting) for free download from Fingerpress.  If you want to know more about the company, I also conducted an interview with the founder Matt Stephens.

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